Coronavirus Chronicles — More on the Dietary Guidelines

So, we were talking about the Dietary Guidelines that are issued by the Department of Agriculture every five years, leading up to an examination of how those guidelines and the pandemic relate to one another.

Of course, everybody comes at this from a different direction, with each bureaucracy and each interest group having its own priorities. Writers Jessica Fu and H. Claire Brown listed what they consider the “five key takeaways” of the latest iteration of the Guidelines. Men should drink less. People should snack less, although nobody has come to a satisfactory definition of the difference between a meal and a snack. Everyone consumes too much sugar, especially children. Nothing new there.

Parents are advised to expose and accustom children early to potentially allergenic foods. And even though the hunger for flesh is killing the earth, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to be suspicious of milk, in America no government body will ever speak out against meat or milk. Members of the Union of Concerned Scientists wish that the greenhouse gases and water usage that producing meat and milk incur would be taken into consideration. Their protests have turned out to be in vain so far.

Numerous objections

The latest Childhood Obesity News post mentioned some of the many complaints, and there are more. According to many experts, including Nutrition Coalition executive director Nina Teicholz, saturated fats are not as big a villain as previously supposed. But the Dietary Guidelines do not reflect recent research in this area. Because people are still being warned against dietary fats, they are consuming far too much from the grains and other carbohydrates section of the plate.

For The New York Times, Andrew Jacobs reported:

More than half the advisory panel members this year have ties to the International Life Sciences Institute, an industry group largely supported by agribusiness, food and pharmaceutical companies. The group, created by a Coca-Cola executive four decades ago, has long been accused by the World Health Organization and others of trying to undermine public health recommendations to advance the interests of its corporate members.

In a report issued in April, Corporate Accountability noted that the two newly created subcommittees considering dietary issues for pregnant and lactating women and children under 24 months were led by scientists who have worked for Danone, Gerber and other makers of toddler food products.

The Dietary Guidelines run to 835 pages, and still, a number of parties are ticked off over what they consider to be crucial omissions. They are upset about what writer Jessica Wharton characterizes as “the startling amount of scientific literature that has been excluded by the expert committee reviewing the science.” Worst of all, at a time when nearly 43% of Americans are said to exist in varying degrees of obesity, the committee did not consider obesity prevention to come under its purview.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Five key takeaways from the USDA’s 2020 Dietary Guidelines advisory report,”, 07/16/20
Source: “Scientific Panel on New Dietary Guidelines Draws Criticism From Health Advocates,” 06/17/20
Source: “Chorus of Voices Challenge Lack of Science in Dietary Guidelines,”, 09/22/20
Image by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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